Pioneer Credit Counseling - Credit Counseling Rip Off
So a few years ago, we got into some credit card debt. We decided to get the debt consolidated. We called Pioneer Credit Counseling because they were BBB rated and local also. They were more than eager to have our business, and over the phone took our credit card balances, account numbers, etc. They soon called back and said that it would be $450 a month for 4 years to pay the cards off. This was less than our minimum payments so that seemed like a good deal. We went ahead with the program. Keep in mind, we never met with a counselor in person, and the only information we were given was the payment amount and the due date. We made our payments every month, never missed one. After about a year or so, I noticed that the balances on our statements and what Pioneer said we owed did not match. I called and they said oh, we were supposed to keep track of that and call them every couple months with updated balances. Nobody had told me that, and anyway, I thought that's what we were paying them to do! So I updated the balances, they were only off by around $20 on a few of the accounts. The next thing they did was that once we started paying off some of the accounts, instead of adding the amounts to another account they tried just lowering our payment, thereby keeping us on the program longer. When I called to ask about that, they said I could pay "extra" but couldn't tell me what account they would apply it to, just said to check my statement..... Fast forward to June of this year. We SHOULD have been done with the program in October/November of this year, but it seemed that our balances were not moving. Then I found a $500 discrepancy on one of the accounts! When I called, they blamed me for not updating enough. I could understand being off a few dollars, but $500?? And I HAD updated in the past 6 months. So we got it all updated, but now it was taking me out to January or February of next year to be finished paying. I finally said forget this and went to the bank and got a small loan for the amount we owed. The interest on that loan was less than the monthly amount that Pioneer charged to 'manage' the account. I called and confirmed the payoff amount and got a cashiers check from the bank (Pioneer doesn't like to take personal checks). We send it off and began celebrating. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end. We soon got a call saying that they had made a mistake and we actually owed $35 more to have everything paid off. They actually stated that THEY HAD CALLED ALL OF OUR CREDITORS and that the $35 would take care of the balance. I sent the $35 and figured it was done. WRONG. This month I began getting statements from some of the creditors. So far I owe three of them more money (one of them was for a late charge that evidently Pioneer racked up!!). I promptly called Pioneer. They basically said too bad, that it was my responsibility to call the creditors and make sure they were paid off, and that they told me that. In fact, they did NOT tell me that, they told me THEY had called. When I mentioned that she said 'well, we cant guarantee that they gave us the correct payoff amount' and basically said I was stuck paying the balances. At that point I told her what I thought of the company and hung up. To add insult to injury, we received a congratulations certificate and a survey to fill out for completing the program. One of the questions on the survey asked if the CD-rom we got at the beginning of the program was helpful, well, we never got one. I am trying to cool off a bit before I fill out their survey, but if you have to consolidate debt, I would not recommend Pioneer Credit Counseling to do it.
Rapid City, South Dakota
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